While various online marketplaces have sprung up to serve the Myanmar market, online payment is still years away.
Erwin Sikma, who runs several online enterprises in Myanmar including Kaymu.com.mm and Shop.com.mm, told Myanmar Business Today that they have “good hopes that in the next one year mobile payment systems and in about two years online systems” will become available in Myanmar.
“The main bottleneck we see is the coordination between the main stakeholders like banks, telcos and payment providers. However, all those parties are rapidly professionalising, also driven by improved regulation,” Sikma said.
“The fact that this trade is conducted via Facebook just shows that a major platform where all the offerings are combined is missing. Facebook stores are mostly unorganised, decentralised and not trustworthy,” he added.
Urbanised locals and the growing expat community need more goods and services, and there is room to sell goods. One advantage of online sales is the ease of price comparison and fairness.
But as these stores start up and gain customers, follow through is still a challenge. Without digital payment systems, cash-on-delivery is still the most common method of payment, and meeting in person to deliver goods is still commonplace.
The lack of card payment makes it difficult to collect a fee, so profiting from online stores is far from straightforward. Some work with stores to distribute their goods, but this is not the only method of doing business.
Data collection is still in its infancy in Myanmar, and any website in Myanmar can stand to do well in this regard. Facebook has the head start, but its data collection methods aren’t as well enforced as in other countries.
For example, official Facebook policy requires users use their real names, but this standard seems to go unenforced in Myanmar. Until this comes to pass, making money through online sales will still be a complicated business.